A centuries old kingdom, Burundi, together with Rwanda, was initially colonized by Germany. Towards the end of Word War I, Rwanda-Burundi territory was handed to Belgian under a League of Nations Mandate. At the end of World War II, it became a United Nations Trust Territory, still under Belgium, until it became independent on July 1, 1962.
The post-independence history of Burundi has been dominated by violence, including assassinations of rulers (1961, 1965, 1993, 1994), military coups d’état (1966, 1976, 1987, 1996, 2015), episodes of genocide (in 1972, 1988, 1993), civil war (1992 – 2008) and exile of millions of Barundi. A ceasefire agreement in 2008 offered hope for reconstruction of Burundi’s government into one that would be acceptable to the country’s major ethnic communities.
The Constitution of Burundi was changed in 2015 to abolish presidential term limits to enable President Pierre Nkurunziza to contest for a third term. The president’s declaration that he would be a candidate was the reason given by a group of soldiers who mounted an unsuccessful military coup attempt on May 13, 2015. Nkurunziza regained control, but Burundi was thrown into violence that resulted in another wave of refugees who fled to neighboring countries.